Wednesday night’s way-too-real episode of MTV’s The Challenge: Battle of the Bloodlines revealed what looks like an emotionally damaging relationship between two of the show’s most loved/hated cast members, Cara Maria and Abram.

For this season of The Challenge, MTV assembled a group of cast favorites from its various shows (including Real World and Are You the One?) to compete with their relatives and nemeses for a cash prize. This particular storyline begins with Cara Maria hooking up with former Real World cast member Thomas, despite having her boyfriend Abram back home.

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Much to her surprise, Abram (and his brother Mike) end up joining the cast midway through the season as replacements for an injured contestant. Last night’s episode is when Abe finally finds out about Cara Maria’s cheating.

Challenge fans already know that those two are oddballs and that they’ve had a bizarre relationship from jump. After falling in love around five years ago during a taping, they continued a relationship off-screen, breaking up and getting back together on occasion. Abram has a reputation as an off-kilter crazy person with a major temper, while Cara Maria is the super athletic misfit you could easily see playing a rom-com manic pixie.

In lieu of losing his temper last night, Abe is alarmingly calm and instead pressures Cara Maria to make up for her affair by voting against Thomas. Smart move for the game, but not their real-life relationship. Scenes like this make it clear that these two aren’t in a healthy relationship. It’s also another moment where Abe’s unpredictable persona is scary to watch.

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The most disturbing part of the episode is toward the end, when Abram’s brother is competing against Thomas’ brother Stephen in a one-on-one. Abe is on the sidelines, yelling to the point that his nose bleeds, and looking like a crazy-ass Sideshow Bob. Again, as entertaining as he is for reality TV, you wouldn’t want to be in the same room with this dude.

The madness continues during the after show, when Abe sees footage of Cara Maria for the first time. It’s her sitting in a bunk bed, confiding to her cousin Jamie that she planned on leaving Abram. “I just don’t want to be with him anymore,” she says. “I was gonna leave him when I got home from this. We’ve broken up so many times. It’s just an unhealthy relationship. Like … I’m so glad I have you.” And, “God I wish he never came.”

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Cara Maria later reveals that she had no idea the cameras captured that moment, which from a viewer’s standpoint is a chilling confession about how hard it is to break up with a crazy person.

There’s no direct mention or implication of abuse. But from the way these two communicate, it seems like a very volatile pairing, with Abram doing pretty much all of the yelling as if fighting with himself.

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During the after show, Abe screams at the security guards and looks like he’s about to Hulk-ify himself and it’s frightening how quickly he loses it and even scarier how quickly he gathers himself. Watch his blow-up with MTV producers right before the after show:

On the couch before the after show interview portion, Thomas asks Cara Maria, “How are you and Abe?” and she says, “Something new everyday.”

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Uh, why are these two together? Abe and Cara Maria end up awkwardly talking to each other on the couch (in front of an audience) while Abe repeatedly berates her for cheating. Cara Maria is on the receiving end once more, like a kid being scolded.

All in all, it’s the most uncomfortable thing to watch a troubling real-life reality TV relationship unfold on TV. You never know what it’s really like off-camera. But again, why are these two together?


Contact the author at clover@jezebel.com.

Images via MTV